Most of the time our toddler is way too interested in other stuff to be worried about eating. To combat this we have had to develop a few tricks in our toddler feeding routine to ensure she gets enough food into her belly to fuel her growing little mind and body and the first of these is choice.
I generally will have something in mind to feed her but I try to get her to make that choice herself.
“Ha ha” I hear you say. I also try to make sure that the choice involves at least one of the foods that she will always eat. I use the word try as it doesn’t work all the time.
In our case her favorites are bread and cheese. For example if I was planning to give her a cheese, tomato and avocado sandwich for lunch I would say to her, “What would you like for lunch today? Would you like a yummy sandwich?”
“No” is generally the reply (These days the answer is almost always a firm ‘no’ to everything).
“OK then what about some tomato?”
I then go about naming all manner of fruit and vegetables and anything else I can think of except the two favorites of cheese and bread.
Be a little careful what you offer your toddler as you will have to supply if she says yes so don’t suggest what you don’t have and definitely don’t suggest ice cream or sweets as it’s pretty difficult to go back to a tomato after a belly full of chocolate ice cream.
Anyhow I finally offer cheese and by this stage she is so excited to hear something that she actually really likes (it sounds even better to them if it is said directly after things like broccoli and cabbage) that a resounding ‘Yes’ is the reply.
With much excitement I pull out the cheese and cut a few small pieces for her and a few larger ones for my sandwich (It definitely helps if you are eating too). While she is eating the cheese I then cut up a tomato into slices and leave it on the bench where she can see it. The same goes for the avocado and finally the bread.
As I am building the sandwich I will eat a few of the chopped up pieces myself and then casually drop a few on her plate as well. These are usually eaten along with the bits of cheese. For some reason with our toddler they are more likely to be eaten if they look like they appeared there by accident and I don’t watch her eat them. Go figure?
I then cut the crusts off the sandwich and divide it into eight small triangles whereby I will put one on her plate and the rest on the bench in clear view. I find it helps greatly to cut the tomato into little bite-sized pieces so when she does take a bite from the sandwich the tomato (which can be hard to cut with the teeth) won’t slide out with the first bite.
It also helps to squash all the ingredients together as much as you can so the triangles can be held easily by little hands and not fall apart between hand and mouth.
As our toddler has already tasted all of the ingredients for this meal and she didn’t die of yucky poisoning the addition of her favourite ingredient (bread) into the mix is usually enough to get her to eat the sandwich whereby she will then motion for another triangle.
If not I can usually encourage her to eat all of the ingredients without actually having them on a sandwich which is the same thing anyway.
I think that the fact that she has chosen the main ingredient of her meal makes our toddler feel like she is control of the situation and subsequently does not mind eating as well as having a few extras of my choosing. The worst case scenario is that she only has bread and cheese for that meal and that in itself is better than nothing.
Who likes to be told what to eat….?